- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The amount of money Sen. Hillary Clinton has raised for her re-election campaign is stunning. According to the Federal Election Commission, which itemizes fund-raising activity of 2006 Senate candidates from the beginning of 2001 through March 31, Mrs. Clinton has raised $39.3 million. That includes $27.5 million raised during the last 15 months alone.

The $39.3 million is more than three times what she raised ($13 million) at this stage in her 2000 race and nearly $10 million more than she spent ($30 million) for her entire 2000 campaign. The previous fund-raising record at this stage was held by New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, who raised $30 million by March 31, 2004. (By that same date, Marson Blair Hull had spent $29 million of his own money in a futile effort to snatch the 2004 Illinois Democratic Senate nomination from Barack Obama.) By March 31, 2002, that cycle’s leading fund-raiser, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, had raised $11 million of the $13.7 million she would eventually spend defeating Erskine Bowles, who spent a comparable amount.

At this fund-raising stage six years ago, Mrs. Clinton faced considerable opposition. Her presumptive Republican opponent, Rudy Giuliani, had raised $19 million. When Mr. Giuliani withdrew from the race in May, Rep. Rick Lazio immediately entered and eventually spent $41.5 million. This time around could not be more different. In December, after raising $1.8 million, Jeanine Pirro ended her gaffe-filled campaign for the Republican Senate nomination. In January, Edward Cox, Richard Nixon’s son-in-law, announced he would not seek the nomination after raising and spending $1.4 million. That leaves Kathleen McFarland, who had $400,000 in the bank on March 31, and John Spencer, who had less than that. The Clinton campaign account held nearly $20 million at the end of the first quarter, and Mrs. Clinton has already spent nearly $20 million.

What the former first lady will eventually raise is anybody’s guess. During the last nine months of 2000, she raised about $17 million. No doubt that will be small change compared to what she will collect before the year is out. Of course, any money she doesn’t spend for her re-election to the Senate can be rolled over into a “Hillary in ‘08” presidential campaign. By the end of 2003, less than a month before the Iowa caucuses, Howard Dean had raised $41 million. On Jan. 1, 2007, 13 months before Iowa, if she restrains her spending and opens the fund-raising engine full throttle, Mrs. Clinton conceivably could write a check to her presidential campaign for $40 million.

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